We were silent for a very long time after the goddess's departure. I assumed that we would not age while we were there but all the same - a thousand bloody years? On the other hand, what kind of things would we learn here? Apart from how to help a universe to give birth that is. Chang and I nearly jumped out of our skins when Kari broke the silence,
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"What if she's lying to us?"
Now that I hadn't considered and it was a worrying thought.
"Then we'd have to assume that everything she told us is a crock." was Chang's opinion.
I nodded my agreement,
"If that's so then we have a bigger problem."
"Like what?" frowned Chang
"Like if she can transport us to god-knows-where by snapping her fingers, what else is she capable of?"
"Exactly. Assuming she belongs to a race of aliens with technology way ahead of ours it's safe to theorise that the time blips are being produced by some sort of weapon being tried out."
"Might be a time travel device being tested." Kari said.
"Might be that I'm telling the truth. Mortals - honestly you seem permanantly paranoid as far as I can tell."
Diane was standing in the doorway, hands on hips, mouth set in a tight line. She sighed,
"Why, if I can do all these things, should I bother lying to you?"
Well it was a good point actually. But there was still a doubt loitering with intent in the back streets of my mind. I tried to voice it but she interrupted,
"I know, if you believe I'm a god then you assume no weakness is possible. Therefore you don't look for one."
I said slowly,
"I don't go in for theology in a big way but I thought gods were omnipotent and yet you need our help in this particular case?"
"If nobody believed in us we wouldn't exist. Did that ever occur to you?"
I opened my mouth, closed it again. Opened it again then closed it. While I did my galaxy famous impression of a goldfish, Kari asked,
"So until we developed the concept of gods and so forth, you didn't exist?"
"Well there was always some kind of belief that a guiding force existed. It was more of a back brain kind of thing and we were almost formless for at least a billion years. Very uncomfortable I can tell you."
Hmm, I bet it was. But what had her life story to do with us? She answered,
"Basically Spider it means that we are nearly omnipotent but not quite. This is an event that even we can't handle alone."
Biggy question next,
"Why is it gonna take a thousand years to train us?"
"Because you're mortals and you'll need to start at the very beginning. Obviously certain abilities will develop as we teach you to use your brains properly."
Chang's eyebrows practically joined his hairline, I could see credit signs in his eyes.
"Abilities? What kinda abilities?"
Diane pointed a finger at him and whispered,
"I know what you're thinking,"
Reasonable - she was a goddess after all, telepathy probably came with the territory.
"You're thinking 'will I be able to conquer five galaxies or six?' Well to tell you the truth I don't know. But you see this finger?"
He nodded once, again reasonable, it was about four inches from his nose.
"It's one of the most powerful fingers in the universe and it can blow your head clean off. So before you decide to abuse your abilities, you have to ask yourself a question.'"
A disturbing familiarity to her words had me desperately clawing through my Chasm for references. Eventually I found it and started to smile, she had to be kidding.
"Do I feel lucky? Well punk - do you feel lucky?" He evidently didn't, the ashen hue to his face bore testimony to that.
She turned and grinned at me,
"That's right Spider, you didn't think he'd really died did you? The man was a god after all."
A few hours later we began our training.
In five hundred years time, most of us will be forgotten dust. But Hitler will still be remembered, God loves irony.